I’ve been joking with my friends lately that my kids have become feral. In many respects, they have. Sure, we get up and have breakfast, then start school — which includes instruction of new topics, practice, and independent work. We have a dedicated time for reading in which we all go to our rooms and read for pleasure. We are still trying to find the best way to incorporate religion.
We have lunch, which essentially serves as the marker in the day that the structures of normal life no longer apply.
We live in the south and currently, the weather is glorious. We haven’t reached the point of suffocating heat, gagging humidity, and thankfully the mosquitoes haven’t landed just yet. It’s sunny and breezy — the perfect weather to go outside and stay there.
For most of the afternoons lately, and full well into the early evening, my kids are outside. Either they are drawing with sidewalk chalk, creating a game with the swings and ropes dangling from our oak tree, or testing physics with skateboards and the natural slopes of our property. My son is often pulling things apart to figure out how they work. An old computer from the early days of our marriage served for a great hands-on STEM lesson.
Whether they are running up and down the street, furrowing in the bushes looking for snakes, creating a pretty stunning make-believe fort out of the wood pile behind the house, or collecting fireflies at dusk, happiness is exuding from their souls. I can tell by their muddied bare feet that this freedom is everything that their busy childhood needed. The wildness is medicinally calming.
But it doesn’t mean it’s easy for the adults. The lack of predictability is unsettling. The lack of structure can cause anxiety. The mundane can be maddening.
You know what helps? Getting dressed. While I know this is a wildly unpopular opinion, you’d be surprised how much it actually helps. I’ve had to let go of life as we traditionally have known it, but that doesn’t mean I have to let go of the fact that morning, noon, and night still exist as real concepts of time. Holding on to them creates a sense of lingering normalcy and I’ll hang on to that with a death grip.
We’ve all seen the jokes about day pajamas and night pajamas. Or the ones asking those of quarantining in jeans, what exactly do we have to prove. I have nothing to prove, but everything to save. Getting up each morning and getting myself dressed keeps me on an even keel. I have said it multiple times, no matter what you are facing, it’s exponentially easier in lip gloss. You may not wear lip gloss, but we all have our ‘thing.’
Getting dressed maintains the natural time zones throughout the day — the normal transition signals that denote the passage of time. Something that in these times we are all so sorely lacking. Getting dressed signals to my children that while life as we know it may not look even remotely like what we are used to, it’s okay because their mother is still tethered to the ground.
Sure, I may be panic-stricken some moments throughout the day, but I remain a steady light for my children which, in times likes these, is invaluable. I cannot imagine trying to weather this storm dressed in pajamas at 1:30 in the afternoon. It would not serve any positive purpose throughout my day, other than sending the message to my children that mom has lost her way.
Getting dressed helps. It keeps one foot in reality; or at least the reality we are all longing for. Reminiscing for the times we all longed for is a perfectly fine thing to do and getting dressed serves an ongoing reminder that we will get back there.
Besides, even though I am home all day, I am serving as a homeschooling teacher, administrator, lunch lady, disciplinarian, school mascot feeder, and president of the PTA. It would be really weird to announce this year’s school-wide fundraiser in the same clothes I slept in.